On January 30, 2019, Dutch and American officials celebrated the rollout of the first operational F-35A Lightning II for the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, commemorating a transformational leap in capability for the future of the Netherlands’ national defense.
“Receiving this F-35 at Leeuwarden Air Base later this year is going to be a huge driver for change for our Air Force and will have tremendous impact on the relevance of our Air Force as part of the coalition,” said Lt. Gen. Dennis Luyt, Commander, RNLAF. “We want to be among the best air forces of the world, and the platform of F-35 allows us to do that.”
Various distinguished government, military and industry guests joined Luyt in attendance at the ceremony, including Lockheed Martin Chairman, President and CEO Marillyn Hewson; State Secretary, the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs Mona Keijzer; and Special Envoy F-35, the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs Maxime Verhagen.
“From the very beginning of the F-35 program, the Netherlands has been a key partner in developing, testing, improving, and maintaining this remarkable aircraft,” said Hewson. “Dutch suppliers have provided high-volume production, structural-design support, and advanced technologies, and Dutch aircraft and personnel continue to support ongoing testing and operations for the worldwide F-35 fleet. As we look to the future, the Netherlands will serve as a sustainment hub in the European region for maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade projects.”
Following the ceremony, the aircraft is scheduled to ferry to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where F-35A pilot training takes place. The aircraft is the first operational F-35 and the third Netherlands jet delivered to date. The first two Dutch F-35s were delivered in 2013 and are at Edwards AFB, California, supporting operational testing. The RNLAF plans to acquire 37 F-35As.